It is early in the desperate journey of the colony vessel Sanctuary, with her myriad inhabitants still struggling to live together…and tensions are rising…

PING! The lift doors slide open, and a massive Zangali rumbles off, his head hanging due to sheer weight between his shoulders. His spiked hands dangle toward the floor, threatening to scrape the deck.

Marcus is standing with Teel and Firemane, evidently having some sort of a conversation with the two.

Teel nods to Marcus, grinning. “Aight. I look forward ta hearin bout yer changes, Sly.”

Hogan lights up a cigarette, looking at the directory

Firemane glances over toward the Zangali, but suprisingly no disgust shows on her face.

Knuckles cocks his head slightly, lifts his snout and snorts the air. He growls, turning slowly, speaking before he sets eyes on…”Demarian.”

Firemane raises her head, her stance utterly polite and formal. “Yes?”

Hogan nods to Jest’liana, a familiar face

Knuckles shrugs, his shoulders clanking. “Knuckles just say what he see…like softskin see cockroach.”

Marcus dips his head to Teel, looking to the side real quickly and raising an eyebrow at the Zangali before back to Teel. With a look at his chronometer, he says. “Well, I should get going. Gotta pay someone a visit right quicklike before I sleep. Take care Teel.” At this he turns away, heading for Knuckles though pulling up short. “Behave yourself.” He says simply, the edges of his mouth quirking upward very briefly.

Jest’liana steps out of the theater, a white silk scarf in her hands. She stops, eyes on Knuckles. Marcus’ eyes travel up the massive Zangali’ lumbering frame and his eyes flicker the briefest of recognition. “Damnit.” Said even as he turns to look back behind him, eyes tracing across Teel, Firemane, and then Jest’liana. “Here we go again.” Muttered more to himself than anyone.

Teel puts her hands on her hips as she notes the huge Zangali. “Musta ate th’big rats,” she mumbles.

Firemane smiles, her ears twitching slightly, but no other part of her stance changes. She considers saying something, and then turns back to Teel. “Have you met my mate yet? She is also a senator.”

Teel pauses in thought, snaps her fingers. “Um…Ebonpelt?”

Jest’liana heads over to the Zangali, sauntering.

Knuckles chortles, then turns and stomps toward the next available lift. He presses a button with a clawed finger, jamming the button. PING! The doors whoosh open, and a green arrow glows green, pointing upward. The lift is, however, packed with about a dozen Castori who, although relatively small, still take up a lot of horizontal space within. The Zangali growls at them as the doors whoosh closed again.

Jest’liana’s eyes narrow as she just happens to move towards the lift too.

Firemane nods. “That would be my dear Ebony.” She smiles. “Who got herself a job.. I’m not used to my mate representing lots of people.”

Marcus smirks at the scene, eyes going back to his chronometer, then, too, towards the elevator heading downward.

Knuckles prods the lift button, but it appears hopelessly jammed. He snarls and begins to pound the panel.

Teel waves a hand in dismissal. “Aw, you’ll get used to it. Sides, she needs somebody ta watch her back.”

“Machines are never to be trusted.” Jest drawls, leaning against the wall and watching Knuckles. “They hardly ever listen to the finer things in life, like brute force.”

WHAM! WHAM! The panel begins to buckle with the force of the blows from Knuckles. WHAM! WHAM! WHAM! Sparks fly and smoke tendrils waft toward the ceiling.

Marcus keeps his distances from the lift, however, but as Knuckles begins to pound at the elevator, speaks up with. “Hey! Cut it out. Now.”

Firemane grins “Ye..” She winces. “Ow, angry li…. Person alert.”

On the opposite side of the corridor, another lift PINGS! open, a friendly green arrow glowing upward. The lift, naturally, is empty.

“Oh jiminy cricket!” Teel rushes to the elevator, anxious. “Hey, big guy…yer breakin it.”

Knuckles nictates his eye membranes and swivels his shovel-shaped head malevolently toward the source of the command. He hisses at Marcus: “Silence, softssssskin.”

Jest’liana’s eyes narrow. “Knuckles…That is your name, right?”

Firemane walks over to the lift softly, careful to stay well back from Knuckles.

The lift on the other side of the corridor, unseen by Knuckles, is boarded by a skittering Odarite. The doors whoosh shut and away it goes.

Marcus takes a breath and heads, too, towards the lift. “Dont’ pound on the door, you walking luggage bag.”

Spines bristling atop his head, the Zangali flickers his eye membranes and rumbles deeply in his throat, looking Marcus up and down, apparently sizing him up for the rare non-vegetarian meal. Then he turns his cold attention to Jest’liana. “Who ask?”

Marcus quirks his lips to the side, folding his arms across his chest as he merely shakes his head and stares back at the Zangali.

Hogan catches the look the Zangali gives Marcus, and keeps his hand near his jacket pocket.

Teel is, at the moment, more concerned with getting the elevator fixed. She examines the panel, and pulls tools off her belt, scowling.

The lift alarm begins to buzz repeatedly. Apparently, the car carrying the Castori has become stuck between decks.

Jest’liana looks up, meeting the Zangali’s eyes unflinchingly. “Come on now. You are a very impressive specimen, Knuckles. You’re bound to cause attention, such a strong able warrior like yourself. I have heard of you…” She says lightly.

Knuckles thumps his chest proudly – the spikes fused into his knuckles scraping familiar furrowed scars. “Me Knuckles. Knuckles top enforcer for Boss Cabrerra!”

Firemane winces, and makes the Demarian equivalent of an ‘oh sh*t’ expression, and ducks into a passing lift.

Hogan grins, stepping forward. He whispers to Marcus, “Sharp as a tack he is…and twice as flatheaded.”

Jest’liana nods firmly, “I can see that. And I can see why Cabrerra would hire such a person!” She smiles, “Bet he doesn’t even need any of the other enforcers with you on his side.”

Marcus snorts a brief chuckle at Hogan, a very faint nod of agreement before his attention goes back to the Zangali, more than once his eyes flickering towards Jest’liana, a mixture of amusement and anticipation present within.

Teel pauses for a second as the Zangali introduces himself, then proceeds to open the access panel for the elevator wiring.”

High-pitched hooting and grunting can be heard coming from within the elevator shaft, accompanying the wailing alarm buzzer.

Hogan grins, “And he certainly wouldn’t need any more storage space than what can be held between the ears…”

Knuckles shrugs hugely. “Boss not have just Knuckles, but Knuckles is *top* enforcer! Boss say so!”

Jest’liana frowns a little, “Hey Knuckles, I was wondering. Not that your boss needs another Enforcer, but he might need something … else?” She smiles, “Like me? I can do many things which he might find..interesting. And useful.” Jest’s wide gray eyes glitter, lips curved. “He might be very grateful to you if you arranged a meeting…”

Knuckles chortles. “Knuckles no receptionist! Boss Cabrerra no hiring. Knuckles other things must do!”

Sparks fly out of the panel, causing Teel to dodge. She then snorts. “Gotta patch roun th’XR board. It’s hoopin shorted out.” Wires and cutters are employed, as she runs a route of wiring around the damaged part.

Marcus’ eyes roll upwards, though he hides any further response with closed lids, slowly opening them again to stare blankly at the Zangali.

The hoots and whistles in the shaft are getting more and more urgent. The alarm continues to buzz.

Hogan avoids a laugh by taking a drag off of his cigarette…a chortle still escaping…

“Then who would I talk to?” Jest asks, “Who would be his receptionist? Boss Cabrerra was very smart to hire you. He is certainly smart enough to want to talk to me.”

Neilson steps off of one of the lifts, a pair of tools slung over his shoulder. Five more men follow him out.

Hogan looks at the shaft, “Umm…s**t…I wonder what’s wrong up there…”

Knuckles laughs raspily. “Boss Cabrerra hire me long time ago. Boss not in public biznez.”

Jest’liana’s eyes narrow again, “Neither am I..”

Neilson heads over to Teel. “Hey-o. Elevator problems?”

Teel looks up at Neilson. “Hey, Johann. The lift is stuck. I’m thinkin it’s the XR board got shorted out.”

Neilson smirks. “XR board, eh?” He thunks heavily on the lift doors. “Anyone there?” he calls. Someone hoots, whistles and grunts from above. The alarm buzzer goes off again. Neilson chuckles quietly to himself and calls, “Just hang in there, we’ll get you out. Is anyone hurt?”

Teel says, “Buncha Castori, Johann. You speak it?”

Sounds like someone just hocked a big wet spitwad up inside the lift shaft.

Knuckles brings his eyes back to Jest’liana. “You tell Knuckles name. Knuckles might tell Boss.”

Neilson shrugs. “Nope.” He arches his brow. “I’ll assume that’s a yes for now.” He takes a small com unit off of a clip on his coat. “109 to all units, return all except for Rescue 4, Medic 27. Unknown number of Castori, stuck in an elevator.” He clips the unit back on and looks to Teel. “Now, explain this XR board?”

Marcus’ eyes are constantly throughout the conversation looking from Jest’liana and Knuckles.

“My name is Liana.” Jest says, voice quieter now. “And like I said, your boss will like me. Very much.” The drawl and light innuendo is strengthened by the half lidding eyes and faint smirk. “Hell, I even provide references.” She winks..

Knuckles doesn’t seem like he’s quite bright enough to catch anything remotely resembling subtlety or innuendo. “Knuckles might mention.”

A group of eight men, clad in turnout suits, steps off of another arriving lift. One carries a portable generator, others a pair of saws.

“Knuckles better. His boss might give him a promotion or a raise. Who knows? I’ll bet Cabrerra rewards well..” Jest notes.

Yama looks with alarm at the men with large sharp instruments.

Teel carefully attaches new wiring in the panel as she speaks. “The Zangali gent over there punched th’lift button one too many times. Sent a surge through th’XR board. Cracked it somethin fierce. I’m jus’shuntin th’power roun it, ta get the lift goin again.”

Knuckles shrugs, his shoulders rising like low hills flanking his mountainous head. “Knuckles not get much more than top enforcer.” He scratches his chest with a clawed finger. “Except…maybe…TOP top enforcer!”

Jest’liana nods slowly, “I’ll bet that is what he gives you if you arrange a meeting with me and him.” She says confidingly.

Neilson nods slightly and looks over to the group. “Alright, looks like we got a possible solution. But just in case… Cap, what say you we send a team up to the next level, rig a high angle system?” One of the men nods and says something in hushed tones to a cluster. Four men head back to the lift. Others set down their equipment and wait.

Yama follows the large-instrument bearing men to Teel. His face is either grinning or grimacing. He leans over Teel’s shoulder, attempting to prop himself up gracefully. “Not interrupting, am I?”

Knuckles snorts. “Knuckles think about it.” He swivels his snout ponderously toward Teel and Neilson. “Fix it!”

Teel’s attention is on the panel, but she manages to murmur, “Heya Yam. I’ll be done in a min.”

Marcus covers the lower portion of his face with a hand, eyes peering over fingertips to focus on Jest’liana, a brief shake of his head before looking back Knuckles.

Knuckles growls. “Knuckles not have all night.”

Neilson rolls his eyes, chuckling. “Hear that a lot in this line of work. Sure do.” He says to the rest of the firefighters, “If a high angle fails, we’ll force the doors. Lights ‘n I will start with a Halligan. That fails, either spread it, bag it, or cut it. Decide amongst yourselves.”

Yama hisses, sparing a hasty glance over Teel’s head at the hulking reptile. “Is that the /big/ Nall?”

“How do I get in touch with you again, Enforcer? If I need to ask your expertise on something?” Jest asks, nodding.

PING! Another lift on the opposite side of the corridor whooshes open. Again, a green upward arrow glows. Again, the Zangali is oblivious to it. Three Centaurans drift tinklingly aboard. The doors whoosh closed.

Knuckles snarls at Jest’liana. “Knuckles find you. Where?”

“Okay, I got it routed,” Teel sighs. “Now let’s see if it’ll work.” She closes the panel.

Neilson’s comlink crackles to life. “Four’s one deck up, got a high angle rig set up, we’ll force the doors open and implement on your word.”

Neilson looks over to Teel. “Ready when you are.”

Yama raps impatiently on the bulkhead.

A large mob of men in reflective yellow turnout suits hangs around, many with large power tools of varying sorts.

Knuckles is standing near the lift where Teel and Neilson are working, doing a pretty good job of towering above Jest’liana.

Teel stands up and gently pushes the elevator button…

Daneel looks around after leaving the lift. ‘What’s going on??.

The lift machinery begins to whine in protest…and then it can be heard moving again, descending.

Marcus is standing just outside of the group overall, though still close enough to hear words and get a gist of the conversations taking place, currently his attention is focused on the Zangali and Jest’liana.

PING! The lift doors whoosh open, revealing an…empty…compartment. The arrow glows red, aiming downward. Knuckles flicks his eye membranes and growls. “Knuckles not take.”

Jest’liana looks up at Knuckles. “I’m often at the theater that just opened up.” She says easily. And if you leave a message with someone on The Paw’s End, I’ll get it.”

Neilson blinks. In fact, the whole mob of firefighters blinks. They become very quiet. Finally, Neilson asks, “Okay, um. What happened?” The emergency hatch in the ceiling of the lift appears to have been dislodged. Neilson cautiously steps into the lift, leaving a foot in the door. He unclips a search light from his suit and scans the roof of the car.

Daneel frowns. “What is wrong with that lift?”

No hooting. No whistling. No grunting, except for the frustrated growl coming from Knuckles.

Teel puts her myriad of tools back on her belt. “Um, Daneel, ya need a new XR board for this lift. It got shorted out. I did a quick fix ta get it workin again, but you’d better get yer boffins on it.”

Knuckles flicks his forked tongue between sharp teeth, and glowers down at Jest’liana. “Paw’s End. Furball ship?”

Jest’liana nods, “Yeah. I have someone I know there.”

Knuckles nictates his eye membranes. “Knuckles no like furballs.”

Neilson rummages around in a pocket for a moment. He removes a small metal wedge and sticks it in the door. “Someone get in touch with Four, tell ’em to get the doors open up there,” he calls to the mob. He then looks to Teel. “Can you break this thing again?”

Marcus takes a breath, looking back to the chronometer then the firefighters behind him. “It fixed yet?”

Jest’liana shrugs, “Then find me at the theater. Or perhaps…well. I /sort/ of know someone on the black unmarked ship there. But not well. You could try leaving a message there.” She sounds doubtful.

Knuckles grunts. “Knuckles might mention. Knuckles like idea of being top top enforcer!”

Teel raises a brow skywards. “Break it again? Yer thinkin th’Castori are jus loose in th’shaft?”

Yama looks utterly confused. “How’d they fit the lil’ midjits up into the shaft?”

Neilson smirks. “Somethin’ like that.” He stares up into the shaft again, calling, “Hello? HELLO?” Somewhere, in the distance far above, you could swear you might make out the sound of urgent hooting.

Jest’liana nods, “Good. Be well…Enforcer.” Jest says, and her eyes flicker ever so faintly. Her hand eases off the blaster and she turns, walking away.

Hunter steps off of a lift and looks around. A man with red trim on his turnout suit heads over to join Neilson. They converse quietly for a moment, then the man pulls out a com unit. “Four? Got that door open yet?” “No,” is the crackly reply.

Knuckles swivels his snout to follow Jest’liana with his gray-green, membrane-flicking eyes, and then turns his attention back to the lift Neilson is working on. He shouts: “Let lift go! Knuckles want up ride!”

Neilson clips his light back onto his suit and says, “Someone – LIGHTS! – boost me up!” A large Zangali, about eight and a half feet tall thuds over. He quickly grabs Neilson’s foot and helps boost him up towards the emergency hatch.

PING! A lift on the opposite side of the corridor, behind Knuckles, whooshes open. The friendly green arrow glows upward. Once more, the Zangali is oblivious. A pair of Demarians wander aboard the lift. The doors whoosh closed, and away it goes.

“Somebody get up there with a saw, cut the doors off!” shouts one of the men. A couple firefighters heft up large saws and head for another lift.

Teel sighs, then says very, very calmly, “Yam, the Castori got stuck on th’elevator. They climbed up th’emergency hatch an out.”

Jest’liana moves to the flight deck, eyes hard as granite.

Neilson scrambles out on top of the elevator’s roof. He flicks on his light again. “Hello?!” Nothing but faintly illuminated shadows can be seen above you, stretching for what seems an eternity. The radio Neilson carries crackles with static: “Sir…we’re getting reports of violent allergic reactions of some kind in the diplomatic quarter. Apparently, one of the Mystics has a terrible fur allergy…”

Knuckles growls. “Knuckles need lift! When lift be ready?!”

Teel whistles lowly. “Man, they been climbin hard!”

Neilson sighs and grabs his radio. “Great. Um… Clear Medic 27 of this, send 27 for that.” He thinks for a moment, looking around. “Give it a Medical Box. We’ll still be on scene here. Four, go and cancel the saws.”

Knuckles pounds angrily on the wall directory, forgetting – maybe – the spikes fused to his knuckles. CRASH! The glass covering the display shatters, raining shards on the floor.

Marcus sighs and turns for the flight deck, shaking his head miserably. “Messes.”

Neilson starts. He quickly jumps down from the elevator roof, landing hard on his feet. “What /now?/”

Daneel nods to Teel. “We’ll see what we can do.”

PING! Once more, a lift opens behind Knuckles on the other side of the corridor. This time, the arrow glows red, aiming downward. About a dozen Castori are aboard to be seen, if anyone happens to be looking that way. They look rather out of breath, but amused with themselves. The doors whoosh closed.

Teel raises an arm to shield herself from the flying glass, startled.

One of the many firefighters, in turning away from the glass, spots the Castori. He stares for a moment, then says, “Um. I think we can clear.”

Knuckles blinks dumbly at the shattered directory, then at his pebble-fleshed fist, now imbedded with a few shards. He ponders them not so much as a detriment, but a useful addition to his arsenal.

Neilson scoops up his metal wedge and drops it back in his pocket. He steps out of the lift. “What the hey? What happened?”

Daneel shakes his head. “Knuckles here got a little frustrated.” Daneel looks at the control panel inside the elevator.

Knuckles snorts, then turns and seems to notice the other bank of lifts for the first time. He cocks his head, studying them as if they might be an illusion, and then – apparently satisfied they are real enough – thumps toward them.

A company captain takes his own radio and calls, “Ladder 109, Rescue 4. Stuck elevator, approximately twelve trapped occupants. Occupants freed themselves, lift is… something. Will advise. Stand by.” The man walks over towards Teel. “This lift working again?”

Knuckles presses the call button with a clawed finger.

Yama raps once more. “Just how far up are these guys?”

Daneel opens the panel and looks inside.

Teel picks a small bit of glass out of her arm. She nods to the man. “For now.”

The captain nods. “Thanks.” He turns his attention back to the radio. “Lift is operational for now. Advise maintenance personnel check it out ASAP. Rescue 4 can go in service. 109 will be remaining.”

PING! Lift doors whoosh open. Knuckles stares up at the signal arrow. Green. Glowing upward. He moves to step aboard, but encounters a solid barrier of squeaking, hooting and whistling fur. A dozen Castori, beaming toothily and chittering amongst themselves. Knuckles takes a step back, roaring furiously as the doors whoosh closed.

Neilson shakes his head slowly. He pulls off his helmet, putting his arm through the chinstrap, and walks over to Teel. “You okay?”

Daneel frowns at the command board. “This is looking rather intereting…”

Yama stares taciturnly at Neilson, knowing she’d been used to more. “Y’ok, Teel?” He sucks on a cut thumb.

Teel’s icy glare follows Knuckles as he heads for the new lift, catching the arrival of the Castori Dozen. “Jus’a lil cut. M’okay.”

A few firefighters pack up and leave, chuckling quietly amongst themselves. Neilson nods slightly. “Want someone to check that out?”

True to his single-minded nature, Knuckles fixes his attention on the panel that provided the source of his frustration again.

Daneel uses a circuit tester to find the blown chip.

Knuckles draws back a fist to begin hammering the unblemished call panel when another lift on that side of the corridor PINGS! open, with an arrow glowing greenly upward, with a compartment that is adequately devoid of passengers, Castori or otherwise.

Daneel frowns, as he finds many chips melted into a permanent circuit.

Knuckles growls, the spines flattening atop his head. “About time.” He stomps aboard the lift.

By Brody

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